About the Mobile City
December 4th, 2010

Hybrids are trendy topics and objects. Why not a city that is a hybrid of virtual and tangible? In fact, most cities are becoming just that. The quotation below is from a webpage and essay titled: About The Mobile City — “What happens to urban culture & identity when physical and digital spaces merge?” Smart mobs belong to both sides of the hybrid — don’t you think — because physical humans do smartmobby things by harnessing the digital.

Locative media and hybrid space
The physical, geographical city with its piazza’s, its neighborhoods and highway interchanges is overlaid with the ‘virtual space’ of electronic communication-, information- and observation-networks of GSM, GPS, CCTV, UMTS, WIFI, RFID, ETC. At the same time, the domain of digital space is increasingly becoming physical, an “internet of things”.

It is no longer useful or even possible to talk about the city as being only physical, or the digital world as purely ‘virtual’ (not real or not material). The physical city and the spaces of digital technologies merge into “hybrid space”. These developments in formerly separated domains profoundly influence the ideas we have of time, space and place, citizenship and identity.

Our main questions:
Locative and mobile media can be seen as the interface between the digital domain and the city, bringing the digital world into the physical world, and at the same time uploading and sharing real world experiences back to the digital world. Thus we think it important to address these three questions:

* From a theoretical point of view, what are useful concepts to talk about the blurring/merging of physical and digital spaces?
* From a critical perspective, what does the emergence of locative and mobile media mean for urban culture, citizenship, and identities?
* From a pragmatic point of view, what does all this mean for the work of urban professionals (architects, designers, planners), media designers, and academics?


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